Up, Up, & Away by Jonah Keri (2014)
Up, Up, & Away
by Jonah Keri
Random House Canada, 2014
It has been ten years since Montreal has fielded its own baseball team; following the 2004 season the Expos became the Washington Nationals. In the thirty-six years that the Expos existed, though, they boasted some big names, including two Hall of Famers (Gary Carter and Andre Dawson) and several other superstars (Tim Raines, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker). There is a lot of nostalgia for baseball in Montreal, despite pathetic attendance to games during the final seasons.
Much of that nostalgia is captured by author Jonah Keri in Up, Up, & Away. Keri begins by telling the history of how the game came to Montreal and the struggles of the first several years as an expansion club. Up, Up, & Away really gets good in the 1980s, though, as Keri begins to tell the story of the Expos through a young fan’s eyes, pleading the case for Raines as a should-be Hall of Famer, recounting the exciting pennant races (which the team never won, save 1981), and the devastating cancellation of the latter part of the 1994 season, in which Montreal seemed destined to win it all. Keri examines the reasons that Montreal lost the Expos, from poor leadership to poor publicity to a possible conspiracy by Major League Baseball.
The story of the Expos is disheartening. A team with so much promise, so much potential, that never prevails. Up, Up, & Away ends on a high note, reporting that a feasibility study showed Montreal’s economy could once again support a big league club. But even if a new team took up roots in the city, it could never replace the Expos in the hearts and minds of Montrealers.